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Too many faxes

The Baltimore Sun

The Q:

While technology keeps making it easier for people to reach us by phone, more of us would prefer that it didn't. Several questions recently have focused on reducing calls from charities and telemarketers and how the National Do Not Call Registry applies.

Reader Chris Thomas of Phoenix, Md., wants to know, "Is there some equivalent for unwanted faxes? We have a fax machine for our home businesses and we get unwanted faxes a lot - especially in the middle of the night or early morning."

"I call the removal line every time," Thomas said. "But despite my having called the removal line, there are some companies that continue to fax us. Is there any recourse to this? There are just some faxers who repeatedly ignore the 'do not fax' request."

The A:

The bad news is that registering a home phone number on the national Do-Not-Call list bars only telephone solicitations. It does not apply to fax advertisements.

The good news is that the Federal Communication Commission has junk fax rules. They prohibit unsolicited ads to any business or residential fax machine unless you, the recipient, have an established business relationship with the sender or have given prior express permission to receive the fax ads.

In such cases, the FCC says, fax ads may be sent to you if the sender obtained the fax number directly from you (through an application or contact information form, for instance); obtained the number from your own directory, ad or site on the Internet unless you noted that unsolicited ads will not be accepted; or taken reasonable steps to verify that you consented to have your number listed in a directory or other third-party source that accepts faxes.

Even then, senders of permissible faxes must provide notice and contact information on the fax that allows recipients to "opt-out" of future faxes, the FCC says. To stop unwanted faxes, the FCC advises that your "opt-out" request must "identify the fax number or numbers to which it relates and be sent to the telephone number, fax number, Web site address or e-mail address identified on the fax ad."

Senders who receive an "opt out" request must honor that request within the shortest, reasonable time from the date of the request, which should not exceed 30 days.

Should a sender continue to violate your stop request, complain to your state Consumer Protection Division and the FCC. Online, you can file your complaint by completing Form 1088 at www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html. You may also e-mail the complaint to fccinfo@fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.

You may also fax the complaint to 866-418-0232 or write to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th St. S.W.,Washington, D.C. 20554.

Visit the Consuming Interests blog at http:--weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business /consuminginterests/blog/

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